10.10.10 turned out to be lucky for Pakistan at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Well, kind of.
For the first time in 40 years, Pakistan will be coming home with gold medals in Wrestling. Two actually. With Azhar Hussain and Muhammad Inam winning top spots in the 55kg and 84kg freestyles. The last time Pakistan won a wrestling gold at the Commonwealth games was in 1970 at Edinburugh, when we came back with four wrestling golds.
However, in field hockey – which has long been Pakistan’s staple sport at such competitions – the green shirts lost big time (and played badly) against traditional rivals, India.
Overall, Pakistan’s performance has been dismal. Not just in hockey but overall. From the word go and from the ‘flag carrying Minister’ to the early demise of the Pakistan tennis team in which many had invested (unfair) hopes. However, the wrestlers have done well and done us proud. Here are some details from The Express Tribune:
Azhar Hussain of Pakistan won his country’s first Commonwealth Games wrestling gold for 40 years, beating Ebikewenimo Welson of Nigeria while wrestler Muhammad Inam won the second gold for Pakistan on Sunday. Hussain gave an impressive performance of clever footwork and brute strength to take Welson out by a fall in the second session of the 55kg freestyle final.
“We don’t have the proper Greco-Roman coaches, but still we went for it and for the country’s sake we got the silver in the Greco-Roman and now gold in the freestyle catergory as well,” Pakistan’s head freestyle coach MH Omar said.
Pakistan had not taken a Games wrestling title since they won four golds in Edinburgh 1970. “Like Sushil Kumar is for India, now the same Azhar Hussain is for Pakistan — a champion,” Omar said.
Hussain had earlier disappointed the partisan crowd by beating India’s Anil Kumar in a tense quarterfinal. Kumar gave the loyal home support something to cheer about when he took the bronze, beating Craig Pilling of Wales 3-0. He said: “Bronze is good but I wanted gold. So I’m not at all happy and satisfied. I prepared for gold at these Games for at least four or five years.
“Last night I didn’t get adequate sleep. That’s why I was tired and couldn’t perform 100 per cent. I wasn’t feeling very well. I had some stomach problems. I felt like throwing up all the time.”
Muhammad Inam of Pakistan won his team’s second Commonwealth Games wrestling title within an hour on Sunday – after the country had gone 40 years without a gold.
Inam was outplayed and overpowered by Kumar in the first session but, spurred on by teammate Azhar Hussain’s victory in the 55kg final, the big wrestler found the inspiration to overcome the favourite and the chants of a partisan home crowd.
Inam won the next two sessions by the narrowest of margins to take the bout 4-3.
The two wins in wrestling may not be a big deal for the 2010 Commonwealth Games as a whole or for Pakistan sports, but for wrestling in Pakistan this is a good omen. Like so many other sports, wrestling was been treated shabbily in Pakistan and receives very little official support, and no public support at all. One hopes that may change. It will be good if it does.